22 June 2017

Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way by Dan Buettner - Book Review

Although Thrive is presented as a self-help book, I felt that it was rather a research project or a survey, which is why I was slightly surprised at its style when I started reading it. The book itself and the insights it offers are very interesting. Personally, I didn't find it anything special, but that was because I was in a massive reading slump and I could only start to appreciate it once I went back home and set my mind to finishing it.

The book is about various areas of the world where people's happiness index is at its highest. These include: Denmark, Singapore, Mexico (with a focus on Monterrey) and San Luis Obipso (California). In each chapter, the author recounts his experience interviewing experts and locals, as well as providing information derived from his research. The final chapter goes through the main ways to achieve a happy lifestyle based on the explored countries. I found the style to be very straightforward but slightly tacky at times.

My favourite part of the book was the chapter on Mexico. I yearn to go there one day and get to know the culture from a local viewpoint (also, I really want to visit Frida Kahlo's house!). I enjoyed reading about the food, the folklore and the magic, especially the part on curanderos, people who can cure others in unconventional ways.

I also enjoyed reading about Denmark, although I preferred Meik Wiking's book on Hygge as it was much more focused on hygge, which is the element most of us are probably more interested in compared to societies and cycling racks.

I can't say I appreciated the fact that the book was written for an American audience as opposed to an international one (this emerged through some observations by the author). The book being in English, I would have expected the author to consider a broader audience. There was also a strong religious bias which I did not like. For instance, the author often talks about churches instead of general religious buildings, and mentions the negativity of out-of-wedlock births as opposed to premature births, suggesting some narrow-mindedness on his part.

Overall I recommend this book if you want to expand your knowledge on happiness through facts and happy cultures.

My edition: Dan Buettner, 2010. Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. Washington: National Geographic Society.

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